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House of Commons Hansard #59 of the 41st Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was amendments.

Topics

War of 1812 CelebrationsOral Questions

11:45 a.m.

Oak Ridges—Markham Ontario

Conservative

Paul Calandra ConservativeParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Canadian Heritage

Mr. Speaker, again, we have committed $28 million over four years. We are going to be celebrating Canada and celebrating one of the most important events in Canadian history. It is one of the things that led to this country being as great as it is. It is one of the events that helped make sure that the French factor in Canada is protected. It is one of the things that helped lead us to Confederation.

We will never apologize for celebrating what has made this the best country in the world in which to live. I only hope that the NDP members will, for once, think of why this country is so great, think about why it is that they are sitting in this place, and join with us and the thousands of Canadians who will celebrate this event.

Service CanadaOral Questions

11:50 a.m.

Liberal

Rodger Cuzner Liberal Cape Breton—Canso, NS

Mr. Speaker, under the guise of finding efficiencies, the minister responsible for Service Canada has carved the guts out of her department. Part-time and casual workers are long gone and nearly 90 permanent employees who have left since July have not been replaced. Add to the backlog of calls that are already there 18,600 new unemployed Canadians this month, and we get a sense as to the backlog of work and the demand on Service Canada workers.

However, this minister has the gall to blame the workers. It is not the workers at Service Canada, it is the management, or should I say the mismanagement. When is someone on the government bench going to wake up and--

Service CanadaOral Questions

11:50 a.m.

Conservative

The Speaker Conservative Andrew Scheer

The hon. Minister of Human Resources.

Service CanadaOral Questions

11:50 a.m.

Haldimand—Norfolk Ontario

Conservative

Diane Finley ConservativeMinister of Human Resources and Skills Development

Mr. Speaker, our goal is to help get benefits to Canadians in need just as quickly as possible. To do that, we are overhauling the system. We are automating where we can, so that people can get more accurate service more quickly. We are doing everything we can to help the good employees at Service Canada fulfill their jobs and help Canadians in their time of need.

Service CanadaOral Questions

11:50 a.m.

Liberal

Rodger Cuzner Liberal Cape Breton—Canso, NS

Mr. Speaker, as Dr. Phil would say, “How is that going for you”?

The call centre industry that is driven by productivity has a standard of 85% occupancy. Occupancy is when an agent is actually on the phone, engaged with a phone call.

At Service Canada it has been for quite some time at 99%. The people at the other end of the phone, the clients, they are not there trying to upgrade their cable package or order a pizza. They are looking for a cheque. They want to feed their families. They want to pay their bills.

However, the mismanagement we have seen at Service Canada is denying them the money that is their money—

Service CanadaOral Questions

11:50 a.m.

Conservative

The Speaker Conservative Andrew Scheer

The hon. Minister of Human Resources and Skills Development.

Service CanadaOral Questions

11:50 a.m.

Haldimand—Norfolk Ontario

Conservative

Diane Finley ConservativeMinister of Human Resources and Skills Development

Mr. Speaker, we are trying to ensure that Canadians do get their cheques faster, do get their deposits faster. That is why we are changing the system.

We know it needs fixing. We know that the employees at Service Canada need more help to achieve their goal of helping Canadians.

That is why, in our budget, we included funds to help put in new computer systems that are going to speed up the process. Unfortunately, the hon. member and his party voted against that help.

Canada Revenue AgencyOral Questions

11:50 a.m.

NDP

Hoang Mai NDP Brossard—La Prairie, QC

Mr. Speaker, allegations of corruption at the Canada Revenue Agency have been making the news for six years now.

The Minister of National Revenue refuses to say what is going on at the agency because there is an RCMP investigation. But yesterday, a senior official at the agency confirmed that concrete measures were in place to combat corruption.

Why is the minister refusing to tell us what the measures are? Does she have something to hide?

Canada Revenue AgencyOral Questions

11:50 a.m.

Kamloops—Thompson—Cariboo B.C.

Conservative

Cathy McLeod ConservativeParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of National Revenue

Mr. Speaker, the government does take this allegation of misconduct very seriously. We will not tolerate this type of activity.

We are co-operating fully with the RCMP investigation. It is important to note that many of these allegations go back more than a decade. The RCMP is working its way through the criminal justice system. Of course, the integrity of our tax system is critical to all of us.

I would, please, ask the hon. opposition to let the RCMP do the work. We believe that it can move forward and will get answers in due course.

Persons with DisabilitiesOral Questions

11:50 a.m.

NDP

Manon Perreault NDP Montcalm, QC

Mr. Speaker, Canada ratified the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities two years ago, but there is still no independent mechanism in place to ensure that it is complied with, even though that was a requirement under the convention. This Saturday is the International Day of Persons with Disabilities. Unfortunately, it will be another opportunity to underscore this government's inaction and empty promises.

Why this refusal to establish independent oversight of the implementation of the UN convention?

Persons with DisabilitiesOral Questions

11:50 a.m.

Haldimand—Norfolk Ontario

Conservative

Diane Finley ConservativeMinister of Human Resources and Skills Development

Mr. Speaker, I would like to wish everyone a happy International Day of Persons with Disabilities. It is very important that we help persons with disabilities, and we have launched a number of programs to that end.

For example, the registered disability savings plan has far exceeded our expectations in terms of take up. It will help families with someone who is dependent upon them plan for the future.

We have also provided additional funding for the disabled, so that they can attend post-secondary education, and made it easier for them to get financed. We are doing a lot to help the disabled and we will continue to do so.

Foreign AffairsOral Questions

11:55 a.m.

Conservative

Scott Armstrong Conservative Cumberland—Colchester—Musquodoboit Valley, NS

Mr. Speaker, Camp Ashraf, in northern Iraq, is a makeshift home to political refugees. Those people are opposed to the nearby regime in Iran.

Since the fall of Saddam Hussein, they have been protected by the U.S. and coalition forces. However, with the U.S. winding down its operations in Iraq, who is going to protect these people? Iraq has demanded the camp be closed by the end of the month.

Could the Minister of Foreign Affairs please inform the House of his opinion on what is going to happen at Camp Ashraf and of our action on this important file?

Foreign AffairsOral Questions

11:55 a.m.

Ottawa West—Nepean Ontario

Conservative

John Baird ConservativeMinister of Foreign Affairs

Mr. Speaker, let me congratulate the member for his efforts as a member of the human rights subcommittee.

Canada encourages the Iraqi government to extend the closure deadline to allow remaining residents sufficient time to take the required steps to seek asylum, and to allow the United Nations Human Rights Council to consider and process applications.

We call on Iraq to meet its obligations under international law. We also want to ensure that Camp Ashraf residents are not forcibly transferred to another country where they could suffer.

I can assure the House that my officials and I will be monitoring the situation very closely.

TradeOral Questions

11:55 a.m.

Liberal

Wayne Easter Liberal Malpeque, PE

Mr. Speaker, under the guise of being a trade-oriented government, the Conservatives have been ignoring our established markets. First the minister is surprised and disappointed when the United States shuts us out of its market. Now Canada's pork producers have a market worth $300 million at risk in South Korea because of government inaction. Just as with jobs, not losing markets is every bit as important as finding new ones.

Why has the minister consistently failed to secure a trade agreement with South Korea? Why?

TradeOral Questions

11:55 a.m.

Abbotsford B.C.

Conservative

Ed Fast ConservativeMinister of International Trade and Minister for the Asia-Pacific Gateway

Mr. Speaker, our government is working hard to open up new doors for Canadian farmers, workers and businesses. We recently negotiated further steps toward opening up market access with South Korea on beef and are closely monitoring its domestic implementation process.

We will only sign trade agreements that are actually in the best interests of Canadians, unlike the Liberals. In less than six years, we have concluded free trade agreements with nine countries. We continue to work on agreements with 50 more.

Public TransitOral Questions

December 2nd, 2011 / 11:55 a.m.

NDP

José Nunez-Melo NDP Laval, QC

Mr. Speaker, there are many problems with traffic congestion in the greater Montreal area. People are using public transit more, especially in Laval. The regions's public transit commissions are already seeing large increases in their ridership. This trend will continue in the coming years. A national public transit strategy would result in better coordination of services.

Will this government work with us on a national strategy?

Public TransitOral Questions

11:55 a.m.

Nepean—Carleton Ontario

Conservative

Pierre Poilievre ConservativeParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Transport

Mr. Speaker, I would first like to thank the hon. member for asking this question because the House of Commons Standing Committee on Transport is studying this matter.

First, we must recognize that public transit is under provincial and municipal jurisdiction. The federal government's role is to support these two levels of government. That is why we have already made record investments to support public transit and other means of transportation in rural communities.

TaxationOral Questions

11:55 a.m.

Conservative

Earl Dreeshen Conservative Red Deer, AB

Mr. Speaker, I have heard from many constituents in my riding and across Canada worried about troubling U.S. tax laws that would punish Canadians. For many of these constituents, their only transgression was failing to file IRS paperwork they were unaware they were required to file. As such, our government called on the U.S. government to look upon these individuals with leniency. We were also clear that penalties imposed by the IRS under FBAR will not be collected by the Canada Revenue Agency on their behalf.

Can the parliamentary secretary please update the House on this situation?

TaxationOral Questions

11:55 a.m.

Kamloops—Thompson—Cariboo B.C.

Conservative

Cathy McLeod ConservativeParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of National Revenue

Mr. Speaker, of course our Conservative government understands that this has been a source of considerable anxiety. We have raised this issue repeatedly with the government of the United States. The Minister of Finance has been working closely with American officials on a common sense solution. We appreciate their engagement, especially that of the U.S. ambassador.

We are happy to report that the U.S. has agreed to show leniency. It will waive penalties for many and allow potential refunds of penalties already paid. More details will follow in the coming weeks. This is a victory for Canadians and a testament to our positive working relationship with our American neighbours.

Canada PostOral Questions

Noon

NDP

Marc-André Morin NDP Laurentides—Labelle, QC

Mr. Speaker, I heard some holiday greetings being exchanged earlier. Like Canada Post workers, I am not feeling the Christmas spirit. I am feeling the spirit of Mr. Scrooge.

The government is trying to pacify us by saying it has adopted the Canadian Postal Service Charter, but the quality of service is not the problem, it is the lack of service when the government cuts hours at the post offices. With the cuts, postal workers in my riding will have to find a second job in order to make ends meet.

Will the government listen to reason and assure the people of Rivière-Rouge and elsewhere in Canada that their post office will remain open?

Canada PostOral Questions

Noon

Charleswood—St. James—Assiniboia Manitoba

Conservative

Steven Fletcher ConservativeMinister of State (Transport)

Mr. Speaker, all permanent employees will continue to have jobs at Canada Post. The hours of employees depend on market forces. Sometimes there is high volume, sometimes there is lower volume. Canada Post has the ability to change the number of hours depending on the volume of mail. However, it will also abide by all collective agreements. We will ensure that Canadians will have postal service as per the postal charter. I wish the member would stand and support Canada—

Canada PostOral Questions

Noon

Conservative

The Speaker Conservative Andrew Scheer

The hon. member for Haute-Gaspésie—La Mitis—Matane—Matapédia.

EmploymentOral Questions

Noon

Bloc

Jean-François Fortin Bloc Haute-Gaspésie—La Mitis—Matane—Matapédia, QC

Mr. Speaker, the weak economy continues to have a significant impact: 31,000 jobs were lost in Quebec in November, leaving families penniless just a few weeks before Christmas.

When it should be helping unemployed workers and struggling businesses, the government prefers to wrap itself in symbols of Canadian identity and waste $70 million—$40 million more than planned—celebrating a war that was fought two centuries ago.

What is the government's priority: to help thousands of unemployed workers in Quebec or to spend millions of dollars celebrating a war?

EmploymentOral Questions

Noon

Kamloops—Thompson—Cariboo B.C.

Conservative

Cathy McLeod ConservativeParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of National Revenue

Mr. Speaker, Canada's economy has now created nearly 600,000 net new jobs since July 2009. However, we do sympathize with Canadians who have recently lost their jobs.

As we have said all along, we are not immune to the global economic turbulence being felt by our largest trading partners, the United States and Europe. As witnessed by recent events in Greece, the global economic recovery remains fragile.

Canada will be impacted by these events from outside our borders. That is why we are working to implement the next phase of Canada's economic action plan with measures to create and protect jobs, such as a hiring credit for small business.

Government Response to PetitionsRoutine Proceedings

Noon

Regina—Lumsden—Lake Centre Saskatchewan

Conservative

Tom Lukiwski ConservativeParliamentary Secretary to the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons

Mr. Speaker, pursuant to Standing Order 36(8), I have the honour to table, in both official languages, the government's response to one petition.